Dear Labby | Does my Dog Love (or Hate) Massage?

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Dear Labby_oldDear Labby, 


Each evening I sit with my dog Kylie and give her a massage – I run my hands up and down her legs and her feet and do a little back massage too. Sometimes she moans and groans and it’s almost a growl…is she telling me she wants me to stop, or does she like it? How do I tell?


Massaging Mom


Dear Mom,dog massage
Most dog love massage, especially from their mom. But reading your dogs behavior is important, so it’s wise of you to be certain about her reaction. First, does she get up and move away from you or does she move TOWARDS you. If you take your hands away does she lean back into them? Those are clear signs that she is enjoying it.
Second, does she close her eyes and relax almost fall asleep? If so, then she’s not anxious, she’s enjoying it. Many dogs don’t like their feet or paws touched, so if she seems to pull them away, skip them and focus on her legs, shoulders, back – all the same places you would massage a human.
There are lots of different ways to massage your dog and I’ve provided some resources at the end of the article that offer examples.  Certainly, bonding with your dog in this way is wonderful – it gives them a real sense of calm and relaxation – important at the end of the day for them as well as for you. And if your dog is a working dog or very active, they get sore muscles too, so massage and even icing can help ease any aches or pain. It’s even more important for our senior citizen dogs.  Arthritis takes a toll and can create a lot of discomfort for your dog.
Dogs tend to have no sense of moderation, at least my dogs don’t, so a nice massage to loosen their joints and relax them is likely to be welcome. But if you are concerned about whether she is truly enjoying it, watch for those signs I mentioned.

UPDATE: A good tip from reader Kimberly from Keep the Tail Wagging, you can use the massage to check your dog over – look for lumps, bumps, sore spots, rashes, etc. It can be a good little medical check-up.


During our PetsMove.Org Expo in January, we had a number of videos that provided insight into proper stretching techniques for your dog.



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  1. At night when I go to bed, Mom comes over and gives me a massage where my collar was and a bit on my belly. I always groan and kind of growl. Some people think I am going to bite, but for some reason I do this, only at night before bed. Maybe because I am tired and it feels so good? The same stuff during the day and I don’t make a sound.
    emma recently posted…On Wabbit Patrol | GBGV | Wordless WednesdayMy Profile

  2. Thank Dear Labby! Based on your description (and I’ll read the articles too) Kylie likes the massages. When I stop and move away, she begins reaching for me like as if she’s thinking “please don’t stop!” So I start again. She particularly likes a massage of her chest, under arms, belly, head and neck. I also apply pressure to her leg muscles (all four). I know it gives me a sense of satisfaction thinking / knowing that she enjoys it. Thanks so much for the advice!

  3. If I sit on the floor, Rodrigo will come and sit in front of me for a massage – he learned this as a puppy. Sydney noticed the attention he was getting so she does it too. I use massages for bonding and for an at home exam. It’s nice to be able to see what’s normal and pick up on anything abnormal. It’s these massages (J was doing it) that helped us see that Rigo was getting rashes regularly last year and that pushed us to make the diet switch.

    It also helps us keep on top of everyone’s weight. Right now the puppies have a teeny bit of extra, but they’re puppies (I’ll keep an eye on it). Sydney’s weight is doing great and Rodrigo can stand to gain a little more, just a little.

    So many benefits of a massage so thanks for bringing up this subject.
    Kimberly Gauthier recently posted…Buy a Keep the Tail Wagging Tee and Save a Dog’s LifeMy Profile

  4. I have a friend with a Malamute that grumbles and growls whenever you pet him, though if you stop he moves into you and pushes at you with his nose to keep petting him. Dogs can be weird sometimes. I love the talkers though!
    Gabi recently posted…The Power of Social Media in Dog AdoptionsMy Profile

  5. I never growl when I get a massage. But I look like stoned :o) Mom’s classmate is a vet and she showed her how she can treat my back and my joints. I like that and I only grumble when she says it’s enough :o)
    easy rider recently posted…easyblog BEATLES CONTESTMy Profile

  6. I am forever reminding folks to touch their dogs – this is how we find lumps and bumps, but it is such a good bonding and quiet dog for you and your dog. Thanks for this post!
    Carol Bryant recently posted…Wigglebutts Go Hollywoof Announces Wiggy AwardsMy Profile

  7. Great info! Thanks for sharing! My dogs love massages! Especially Mika. At night I always remove her collar and give her neck a good massage, she hates it when I stop! BOL
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…Thoughtless Thursday- St.Pats style!My Profile

  8. Thanks for info, will be more conscientious now, massage not just petting….always learning on your site!

  9. Thanks for the tips. Bentley loves being massaged and would let me rub him all day & night. I will be bookmarking this page (along with a lot more from you) to refer back on to learn new techniques. Thanks for sharing the info! Bark More, Growl Less Barking from the Bayou!
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…Pet Bloggers R UsMy Profile

  10. Excellent advice as always Labby. There are some dogs who just don’t like to be messed with and it is important to be able to figure if the dog is happy or uncomfortable. Thanks so much for joining the hop!
    2 brown dawgs recently posted…Thursday Barks And Bytes–Staying In The BackgroundMy Profile

  11. Great response and terrific resources to learn more about massage. Like Kimberly, I use it as a time to check for lumps, bumps and anything that might seem strange. And my dogs love it.
    Sue recently posted…Gracie, An English Bull Terrier by Christy Oslund | Book ReviewMy Profile

  12. My dogs LOVE massages, and each one has funny preferences on what are their favorite areas, and each also has “tickle” spots as well. I also use massage as an opportunity to work them over for lumps, bumps, and sore areas.
    Rebekah recently posted…Preventing Dig Out-Using Concrete as a Kennel FloorMy Profile

  13. Our beagle Kobi used to make a grunting/groaning sound that could sound like a growl, when we rubbed his ears or chest. We learned that it was his grunt of contentment. But it took us a while to know that, and other people couldn’t always tell the difference.
    Jan K recently posted…#WOOF Support – ProgressMy Profile

  14. When I went to dog camp one year with Norman one of the speakers was on dog massage, Norman laid there and sucked up all the really nice massaging I was doing. She showed us the pressure points and how to massage so it feels good. (that was long ago and now I just massage how I want since I long forgot her technique) 🙂
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Thursday Barks And BytesMy Profile

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